Low sex drive or low libido is something that can affect people at any stage in life. When there is a mismatch in sex drive between two partners, it can put a strain on the relationship. Both the partner with more sex drive, and the partner with less sex drive, can end up feeling guilty and unsatisfied.
There are many potential causes of lower libido, including:
- Low testosterone
- Painful sex
- Relationship problems
It is normal for the sex drive to change over the lifetime, but it is also possible to have a healthy sex life at any age.
If you are experiencing low sex drive, you may be interested in how to increase your libido and have a more fulfilling sex life. There are lifestyle changes and supplements you can try that may contribute to a higher libido.
What exactly is a sex drive and what is normal?
The sex drive or libido describes how much a person desires sexual connection. Someone with a high sex drive is likely to think about sex often, and to engage in sexual activity frequently. Someone with a low sex drive may not think about sex very often, and is likely to engage in sexual activity infrequently.
There is no standardized medical definition of what counts as a high or low sex drive. There is a wide range of sexual interest that is considered normal, and evaluating whether there is a problem is a matter of whether there has been a significant change from what you consider normal for yourself, or if your expectations and reality do not match up.
A person’s sex drive can change over time, and over the course of a relationship. There is often an initial “honeymoon phase” which involves high levels of desire from both partners. Over time, the amount of sexual interest in a relationship can dwindle. Over the course of a very long relationship, each partner’s sex drive can come and go.
11 ways to naturally improve your libido
There are a number of lifestyle changes, supplements, and strategies you can use to deal with and improve low libido.
When it comes to herbs, supplements, and foods that may help improve libido, the evidence varies in quality. But many of these products are pretty much harmless, like chocolate, oysters, and pistachios.
When taking herbs and supplements, it is important to read the labels on the bottle to ensure the product won’t interact with any of your medications. You should also research the brand you choose, and find out a safe starting dose.
It’s also a good idea to consider lifestyle changes before supplements, as these can make a big difference on their own.
1. Rule out a physical cause
If you are experiencing low libido, it can be a good idea to discuss this with your healthcare provider. They can help determine whether there is a physical cause underlying the issue. If you have any sort of pain associated with sex, it’s a good idea to speak to a doctor, as you may have a treatable condition.
2. Dedicate time to wind down & de-stress
Nothing is less sexy than being stressed out. When addressing low libido, it’s important to get a handle on your stress levels. When we are calm and carefree, it’s easier to enjoy a sexual experience.
Making lifestyle changes that reduce the amount of stress in your life may help. You can also try incorporating some activities that relieve stress, like regular massages, getting enough exercise, and meditation.
3. Communicate more
If you are dealing with low sex drive in your relationship, good communication is essential. If you are able to talk more openly as a couple to settle any relationship stress or more generally about your experiences, needs, and desires, while expressing empathy and understanding for your partners perspective. Talking more makes it much easier to bridge the gap between mismatched sex drives.
4. Make time for a date night
If you are in a relationship, it may help to take the time to plan a date together. In long-term relationships, it’s easy to forget to make the time to keep the romance alive. Planning date nights and quality time together can help you remember why you were attracted to one another in the first place.
5. Use alcohol and cannabis in moderation
Some people like to relax with a drink or use cannabis before having sex. Both alcohol and cannabis can help with relaxation. However, too much alcohol can cause problems with erections in men, and may make some people too tired to engage in sexual activities. So it’s important to use substances in moderation.
6. Try taking maca root supplements
Maca root is a plant native to Peru. It is related to ginseng, and has long been believed to increase sexual desire. Maca root supplements can be found in health food stores.
A 2009 pilot study found that maca root increased sexual desire in men. A more rigorous 2002 study also found that maca root significantly increased sexual desire in men, independent of their levels of testosterone and estrogen.
7. Think antidepressants are to blame? Consider gingko biloba
Gingko biloba is a tree native to China. It has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. Some studies suggest that gingko biloba can increase sexual desire.
A 1998 study found that gingko biloba supplementation specifically reduced the loss of libido caused by antidepressants. In other words, people who had suffered a loss of libido due to antidepressant use had increased libido after using gingko biloba. This effect was stronger in women than in men. However, the study was poorly designed, and participants took different doses of the herb.
In 2004, a better-designed randomized, placebo-controlled trial was carried out to answer the same question. Could gingko biloba supplementation address the sexual side-effects of antidepressant use? Unfortunately, the results were not significant, however some individuals reported strong effects.
8. Curry, anyone? Bring the fenugreek spice into your cooking
Fenugreek is a spice used often in South Asian recipes. It has long been rumoured to increase the sex drive.
A 2015 study put fenugreek to the test in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. They gave fenugreek seeds to healthy menstruating women who reported low sex drive, and found that it increased their sexual desire, arousal, and levels of testosterone and estrogen.
9. Pistachios: add some nuts into your diet… no pun intended
A 2011 study found that eating 100g of pistachios each day for 3 weeks caused men to experience firmer erections and increased blood flow to the penis. While the study did not include a control group, the results are interesting.
Either way, it’s harmless to try including more pistachios in the diet.
10. Eat more chocolate, it helps with stress
Chocolate is one of the most well-known aphrodisiacs, but is there any truth to the tales? There is no good evidence for chocolate’s effects on the sex drive, but it may help a person to feel happier and less stressed.
A 2006 study set out to determine whether chocolate caused increased sex drive. They found a correlation between chocolate consumption and sexual desire, but found that this correlation was actually due to a third variable, which is age. Younger women were both more likely to eat chocolate, and to have a healthy sex drive.
Regardless, it can’t hurt to eat a bit more chocolate and see if it helps.
11. Ignore the cliche, there’s actually some evidence for oysters
Oysters have been thought to increase libido for centuries, yet there is little scientific evidence to support this claim.
A 2013 study from Malaysia found that consumption of oysters increased mounting behaviour in mice compared to controls.
The researchers proposed that the high levels of zinc found in oysters could contribute to their potential sexual benefits. Zinc is an essential mineral required for the proper functioning of sex hormones, including testosterone.
There is no evidence for the link between oysters and libido in humans, but oysters are considered to be a healthy food. Like many of the other potential aphrodisiac foods, it can’t hurt to try.
The bottom line
Low sex drive is a common problem that can affect people of all ages, genders, and relationship types. When there is a mismatch between partners’ sex drives, it can put a strain on a romantic relationship. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to improve your libido and have a sex life you’re happy with.
Lifestyle changes like reducing stress, making time to flirt with your partner, and making sure to use alcohol in moderation are all ways to improve a low sex drive. There are also many potentially helpful supplements, foods, and other products that may help, including maca root, gingko biloba, oysters, pistachios, and fenugreek.
As always, it’s important to rule out a physical cause behind low sex drive by speaking to your healthcare provider.